In Defense of “Puffy” Ashley Judd: Are Female Screen Faces Getting Less Real?

In the light of Ashley Judd’s fiery response to criticisms of her “puffy” face, I was interested to see how notions of beauty in leading ladies’ faces have changed over time. These are screenshots, mostly, of the female lead in one of the top grossing movies of each year.

1970 – Ali McGraw falls hard in Love Story

1975 – Goldie Hawn in Shampoo

1980 – Debra Winger plays in the surf in An Officer and A Gentleman

1980 – Sally Field hits the road in Smoky and the Bandit II

1982 – Sigrid Thornton finds a cowboy dreamboat in The Man From Snowy River

1985 – Lea Thompson flirts with her own son in Back to the Future (awkward!)

1990 – Demi Moore getting romanced through clay by a ghost in Ghost

1990 – Julia Roberts showing her teeth and her heart of gold in Pretty Woman

1995 – Nicole Kidman in Batman Forever

2000- Thandie Newton Kicking Heinie in Mission Impossible II

2000 – Connie Neilsen all dolled up for Gladiator

2005 – Naomi Watts is the beauty to King Kong’s beast

2010 – Gwyenth Paltrow in Iron Man 2

All of these women are lovely. They’re all thin and young and beautiful. It seems to me, though, as the years go on, all faces start to look more like each other: Big eyes, visible cheek bones, puffy lips. The faces from the ’70s and ’80s just seem more …real.

And don’t even get me started on Megan Fox.

What do you think?

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • regular joe

    I dunno. Clearly beauty standards have evolved, and become more exacting. Women on the street now often have toned buns of steel perfectly displayed in yoga pants that somehow fully reveal the hemispheric cleft, making Hollywood starlets of even a few decades back looking flacid and unshapely.The same holds true for men of course, look at the he-men of yesteryear compared to the rippling lats, delts, six packs and pecs of the average Hollywood hunk today.

    Certainly Catherine Hepburn and Rita Hayworth of Hollywood’s gilded age had prominent cheek bones and an unreal level of perfection, not to mention Jane Russel of the 50′s and Raquel Welch of the 70′s, whose bone structure is so good she still looks pretty fine in her 70′s without aquiring that standard Hollywood ‘work done’ look. Certainly Betty Davis and Jean Harlow had large, dreamy eyes, and Marilyn’s were not only large but decidely sleepy and sensually ‘bed room’, and all those had more rounded cheeks.

    There have always been the smoldering temptress type, like Megan Fox, a natural and naughty beauty, and the Apollonian statuesque goddes type, like Gweneth Paltrow, and the softer ingenue Marilyn type like whats her name in Kong. All are real varients in normal female beauty, allowing for the ramping up effect seen in overall human standards recently. The seventies are an anomolous time for comparison BTW, an outlier when a certain shabby, hairy unkemptness in everything was valued. What is novel isn’t Megan Fox with her perfect, if firey beauty- surely Bathsheba and Delilah shared something in common with her.

    What’s novel and odd is the Title 9 Butt Kicking Beauty, an odd modern fantasy, since the higher estrogen that underlies feminine beauty, and the higher testosterone that underlies butt kicking in general, tend not to go together in nature, only on film with wires, CGI and stunt doubles. Even artificially added testosterone, to boost female athletic butt kicking, tends to have androgenic effects that would erode their attractiveness…think East German Female Olympians. Katniss, with her feminine puffy cheeks and warrior status, is the truly bizarre product of Hollywood.


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